Diplomatic relations between the US and Iran have been severed for a few decades. The controversial Iranian nuclear program has further alienated Iran from the West. Despite its complex relationship with each other Iran remains a key power that can play its role in fighting the spread of the IS. Can the current crisis in the Middle East bring Iran and the West closer?
Join the debate between Victor Nadein-Raevsky, who's a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International relations and Dr. Nader Entassar who is Professor and Chair of the Department of political science and criminal justice at the University of Alabama.
The growing threat from the Islamic state and how to stop its spread is one of the issues of concern for the world leaders at the UN general Assembly that has started its work earlier this week. What role can the regional powers play in solving the crisis and minimizing its repercussions? Iran has showed its readiness to negotiate with the US, but how will the talks progress and will Iran's nuclear program be a bargaining chip? Tune in to Agree or Disagree to find out.
Can the US and Iran work in tandem on the issues of security?
Dr. Nader Entassar: In a broad sense, I think yes, because they have a number of common interests. But having common interests doesn’t always translate into common strategies and common broad goals.
Victor Nadein-Raevsky: The American policy is the main obstacle to cooperation even on the problem of the IS. If it wasn’t so, Iran would have already joined this new coalition. But a very important thing in the understanding of the problem is that this IS was formed and created by the US.
Can Iran really help, or is it just using the situation to push its own agenda?
Dr. Nader Entassar: Iran has significant military capabilities on the ground and working relationships with various parties. If it wants to, it can play a significant military role on the ground, which is something that’s been generally missing from all these talks and military attacks we’ve seen recently.
We saw the US carrying out airstrikes in Syria. Does that imply that the door of diplomacy has been shut?
Dr. Nader Entassar: Certainly, anytime a country engages in a military attack on another country, that is a nail in the coffin of diplomacy. And the US, at least so far, has been careful not to associate the aerial bombardment of Syria with their broader goal, which a lot of people suspect the US is after – again destabilizing the Government of Syria and hoping that some friendly regime could come to power. In the next few weeks we will have a better idea of what the overall goal is, but if that is the goal, then I think we are entering a very-very dangerous domain.
But what do you think of the US airstrikes, how effective is that going to be?
Victor Nadein-Raevsky: The result will be quite poor, because a really successful military operation is only possible if you use not only aviation, but normal army as well. But in my understanding, it appears that for the US the main aim was before and is now to destroy the Government of Assad.
Will Iran be using its nuclear program as a bargaining chip here?
Dr. Nader Entassar: Yes, Iran can help. But in order for Iran to help, it has to have something tangible for it. It is not going to simply help the West for the sake of helping the West, to boost, for example, the Saudi position in the region. The extent of Iranian help depends on how much the West is capable of delivering for Iran.
But the West wants to separate the nuclear program and the situation with the IS.
Dr. Nader Entassar: And it doesn’t matter what different parties say; all these issues are interrelated. It is possible to separate one from another for the sake of a specific agreement on a certain set of issues. But in the long run these issues cannot remain separated from each other. One success will depend on the success in another front.
The nonproliferation treaty, as any treaty, obviously grants certain rights and certain responsibilities. Iran has always maintained that it has every right and every responsibility as the member of the nonproliferation treaty. What the West has said in the recent years is that Iran has certain responsibilities, but its rights are not necessarily what is said in the treaty, they have to be determined by other countries. And that is where the problem lies.
Victor Nadein-Raevsky: When Iran says that it does not develop the military part of its nuclear program, we can believe Iran. It is forbidden for the Iranians according to the fatwa of the senior Iranian rulers. In the West, of course, they can’t understand this, because the law is the law, but you can do anything with this law, if you can. But for the Iranians fatwa and this moral decision is a very strong thing.